Peter Mettler’s first feature-length documentary since the Genie-winning Gambling, Gods and LSD, The End of Time is a visually stunning tour de force, as one might expect from one of Canada’s greatest cinematographers. It’s also a rich, deeply rewarding and rigorous meditation on the nature of time. Mettler begins the film with archival footage of US Air Force pilot Joe Kittiger, who flew a balloon to the unprecendented height of 102,800 feet, then parachutes out. Watching these images of Kittinger in free fall suspends our notion of time . The film argues that time itself is, in part, a notion we impose on ourselves — and that there may be other ways to view, measure and experience time than the Western artifices of the clock and the stock market bell.
Travelling the globe, Mettler explores a dizzying range of perspectives on time: from scientists working with a particle accelerator, who try to examine time by smashing protons together in an immense, twenty-seven-kilometre long concrete structure miles beneath the surface; from Buddhists visiting the tree where Buddha was enlightened; from DJ and electronic musician Richie Hawtin, who locates a new frontier in his work with machines; from squatters in an abandoned area of Detroit near where Henry Ford built his first factory, now a derelict behemoth that evokes the broken statue of Shelley’s "Ozymandias"; from the lone remaining resident in an area being consumed by lava pouring forth from an active volcano. En route, Mettler draws eerie connections between the most disparate places and events (the patterns on the ceiling of a Buddhist temple echo the multi-coloured circles in the tunnels of the particle accelerator) and locates parables of renewal and destruction in an astonishing sequence where a grasshopper is transported by an army of ants.
Establishing a mood which oscillates between rumination and trance, Mettler relentlessly pushes at the limits of our understanding of time, and the ultimate fragility of the structures we have constructed atop it. Charting the links between primordial mysticism and the furthest conceptual reaches of modern science, The End of Time is both mind-expanding and oddly familiar, as if reminding us of truths we forgot long ago.
Canada's Top Ten Panelist Rationales:
"In The End of Time, Peter Mettler shifts from concepts of a phenomenon we all take for granted to an experience of it, which he likens to listening to music. This mesmerizing documentary uses images and sound to observe time and make our understanding of it palpable. Moving from the scientific to the sensuous, the filmmaker fills the screen with thought-provoking ideas before bringing his investigation back home on Mother's Day in an unexpected but timely personal moment." — Paul Ennis, Associate Editor (TheWholeNote.com), film and music critic, programmer
"Petter Mettler, already Canada's dream-poet laureate, returns with what turns out to be his most ambitious, linear and personal film to date. Ostensibly an exploration of the abstraction of time, Mettler's ultimate interest is in the moments that matter. Beautiful, haunting and unlike any other film made this year, The End of Time represents one of our best at his best." — Jacob Tierney, actor and filmmaker (The Trotsky, Good Neighbours)
–CPHDOX Film Festival
–Locarno Film Festival
–Toronto International Film Festival
–Vancouver International Film Festival